We had a family gathering today, and were blessed to have two grandmas and one grandpa in attendance. One grandma asked my son, “How’s school? What’s your favorite class?”
My son replied, “Well, we homeschool.”
She replied, “Yes, but you still have classes. Which one do you like best?” This launched into a discussion of math – who knew that I’d have a child who liked math – and the conversation was very positive and upbeat.
Not every conversation with a grandparent will go so smoothly, though. I feel very blessed that my parents and my husband’s parents have been so supportive of our decision, but I have many homeschool friends who have had to buck some pretty severe opposition from their parents about their choices.
It’s not that grandparents want to cause difficulty in the family. I believe that their opposition comes from one or more of the following:
They want what’s best for their grandchildren, and they naturally are curious about everything that affects them.
They aren’t familiar enough with the concept of homeschool to feel confident about it.
They may feel as though you’re rejecting the way they raised you, and feel insecure about their relationship with you because of it.
Our parents were, of course, raised in an entirely different era, and mindsets were different back then. Some of us are more able to change with the times than others who may be holding on to the belief systems they had in their own young adulthood. It can be hard for our children’s grandparents to understand and accept things that are different from their own experiences. We can help them become more accepting by:
Assuring them of our love for them and our appreciation for the way they nurtured us.
Telling them positive, uplifting stories about the homeschool experience.
Inviting them to ask questions and responding to them in an open, non-defensive way.
Remaining calm if their emotions take a turn toward anger or frustration. It’s impossible to assure someone that you’ve made the right choice if you become just as upset as they are.
As we grow up and make choices for our own families that might differ from the way we were raised, we can pretty much plan on raising a few eyebrows. But with loving, open communication, we can share with our parents some of the joy that comes from homeschooling. And even if they never agree with our choice, as long as we’ve remained calm and loving, we can preserve those relationships and perhaps even agree to disagree, continuing to love each other despite our differences.